Global Alternatives Survey 2017

Research shows total global alternative assets under management hit $6.5 trillion

July 17, 2017

Total assets managed by the Top 100 alternative investment managers globally reached $4.0 trillion up 10% on the prior year, according to research produced by Willis Towers Watson. The Global Alternatives Survey, which covers ten asset classes and seven investor types, shows that of the top 100 alternative investment managers, real estate managers have the largest share of assets (35% and over $1.4 trillion), followed by private equity fund managers (18% and $695bn), hedge funds (17% and $675bn), private equity funds of funds (PEFoFs) (12% and $492bn), illiquid credit (9% and $360bn), funds of hedge funds (FoHFs) (6% and $228bn), infrastructure (4% and $161bn) and commodities (1%).

In terms of the growth by asset classes among the top 100 asset managers, illiquid credit saw the largest percentage increase over the 12-month period, with AuM rising from $178bn to $360bn. Conversely, assets allocated to direct hedge fund strategies among the top 100 asset managers fell over the period, from $755bn to $675bn.

Notably, insurance company assets managed by the top 100 alternative asset managers grew from 10% to 12% of total assets.


Data for the total alternative investment universe, shows that overall alternative assets under management now stand at just under $6.5 trillion, across 562 entries. North America continues to be the largest destination for alternative asset manager allocations (54%). Overall, 33% of alternative assets are invested in Europe and 8% in Asia Pacific, with 6% invested in the rest of the world.

The research also highlights that, when looking at the distribution of assets within the top 100 alternative asset managers by investor type, pension fund assets represent a third (33%) of assets. This is followed by wealth managers (15%), sovereign wealth funds (5%), endowments & foundations (2%), banks (2%) and funds of funds (2%). Notably, insurance companies’ proportion among the top 100 alternative asset managers grew from 10% to 12% of total manager assets.

Pension fund assets managed by the top 100 alternative asset managers now stand at $1.6 trillion, up 9% compared to last year’s study, and represents 51% of their total AuM. Allocations to illiquid credit by pension funds doubled to 8% in 2016, while real estate retains the largest share of pension fund assets with 41%. This is followed by private equity FoFs (18%), hedge funds (12%), infrastructure (8%), private equity (7%) and FoHFs (5%).